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Ask an MSP ExpertQ: I’m trying to expand my sales and marketing strategy for my managed services business, and I’m not sure what to do next. I want to try email marketing as a way to reach my prospect list and get them interested in my company. But, I’m worried that I might become a pest and just be adding another unopened email to a prospect’s spam folder. What can you tell me about email marketing and how to do it the right way? How can I use email to actually bring in new business?

email marketingWhen it’s done right, email can be a really effective way to reach prospects and bring in new business. But, when it’s done wrong, it can do just the opposite. So, you’re right to be cautious. It’s smart to make sure you’re prepared before hitting “send.”

When we got this question, we knew exactly who to talk to. So we asked Jeff Dale, the email marketing manager at Intronis MSP Solutions, to explain best practices, do’s and don’ts, and everything in between. Here’s his advice.  

Think of it as a first date

One way to understand email marketing is to think of it like dating. The biggest mistake you can make is to propose on the first date. You have to give it some time and offer to buy the person dinner so you can get to know each other. Then on the second date, demonstrate why you’re a good catch and let the person you’re courting see the value in what you have to offer.

This same logic applies to email marketing. Rather than sending an initial email littered with sales pitches and “special offers,” it’s much better to warm up the prospect. Introduce your company but also establish credibility and begin building a good reputation. How do you do this? Provide value in that first email. From there, it’s a service provider-client marriage made in heaven.

Provide value

Once an email is opened, there’s roughly three seconds before the recipient decides whether or not to actually read it. That’s why it’s so important to spend time crafting each email you send out.

To keep the reader interested, you want to provide something of value from the beginning. Maybe that’s a downloadable e-book or a blog post on a trending topic. Whatever it is, it has to showcase that you’re knowledgeable about their industry and a helpful resource offering them relevant information.

Building a good reputation with prospects is the key to eventually converting them into customers. It takes time, but nurturing the email process from start to finish will pay off. As a best practice, start off sending emails every 15 days. This is a good place to begin, but you will need to keep an eye on things to see how well this works and adjust the frequency accordingly.

Keep it interesting

Everything you write, starting with the sender name and subject line, should be designed with the purpose of getting the recipient to keep reading. From the subject line to the header, subheader, body text, and call-to-action, everything in the email needs to point the reader toward something of interest.

For example, newsletters are useful for guiding a reader through relevant, interesting content. In a newsletter, you can provide articles that the small business owners might read themselves but don’t have the time to find.

This type of email presents your business as a thought leader in their industry and helps build your reputation and brand recognition. At the end of the email you want the small business client to say, for example, “Wow, this MSP really knows about IT for accounting firms.”

Craft each message

The most important things to consider when crafting your emails are the sender name, subject line, and header because these are the things that prospects will read first. Images and subheaders are also important because that’s where prospects will look next. Be sure to include an obvious call-to-action, an image or link that prompts your reader to take an action.

Ultimately, each piece of text should lead the reader into the next, keeping them interested and encouraging them to keep reading.

And don’t forget, there are compliance regulations in email, too. An important one is the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires a commercial email sender to include their physical mailing address in the email message and tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email.

Study the numbers

In order to run a successful email marketing campaign, you will need to study the numbers. To compile the numbers, make sure you use a reliable email provider. Doing so will allow you to gain insight into how your prospects are engaging with your emails.

One of the most important metrics is the unsubscribe rate. It will depend on the number of total recipients, but an alarming rate would be 1 percent, while a good rate would be 0.2 percent or even less. You should aim for the click rate to be at least twice as high as the unsubscribe rate.

Another important metric is the open rate of each email blast. If you notice the open rate is decreasing, it could indicate that your emails are being caught by a spam filter or you have been added to a blacklist. And if it’s increasing, it implies that you’re running a great email program.

Over time, take a look at the open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate to understand what works and what doesn’t. Email is all about testing, so know that you might not get it perfect at first. Constantly be monitoring the metrics, and tweak your strategy based on what you find out.

A successful email campaign requires a good reputation, quality content, and a clear understanding of key metrics. We hope that Jeff’s advice lands you in every inbox and helps you warm up prospects for productive sales calls.

Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.

Photo Credit: Maria Elena on Flikr. Used under CC 2.0 license. 

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Courtney Steinkrauss

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss

Courtney is an Editorial Associate at Intronis. In her role, she assists in creating and publishing content that helps IT service providers grow their businesses.

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